FAREWELL, COWBOY

OLJA SAVIČEVIĆ 

Algoritam, November, 2010, 208 pages

Full English translation and French sample available

The publication of this dazzling, funny and deadly serious novel will bring nourishment to readers hungry for the best new European fiction, and to those wondering where the new generation of post-Yugoslav novelists are… It shines… with the help of a flawless translation from Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth… With this novel, which lodges itself in your chest like a friendly bullet, a glorious new European voice has arrived. The Guardian

Savičević tells her story in highly poetic, sensual language aglow with wondrously incandescent images.

Berliner Zeitung

Memory is the present of all remembered events,’ reflects the protagonist of this droll slice-of-life story, expressing the personal sense of stagnation she experiences upon returning to her childhood home in a remote Croatian village. Dada is newly returned from Zagreb to ‘the Old Settlement,’ hoping to put a pointless love affair behind her and to care for her aging mother, and she finds the routines of the locals and her grown-up childhood friends little changed from how she remembers them… As depicted by Savičević, Dada is a resilient woman whose appreciation of the absurdities of her life allow her to carefully navigate them. Her experiences make for an intimate character study. Publishers Weekly

Translation rights sold: UK (Istros Books), USA (McSweeney’s), Italy (L’Asino d’oro edizioni), Germany (Voland&Quist), France (JC Lattes), Spain (Baila del Sol), Netherlands (Bananafish), Sweden (Gavrilo förlag), Serbia (Laguna), Slovenia (Littera), Bulgaria (Ergo Books), Hungary (Europa Kiado)

Winner of Prix du premier roman en littérature étrangère 2020
One of the 100 best Slavic Novels of All Time
Winner of T-Portal Award for best Croatian novel

Dada’s life is at a standstill in Zagreb—she’s sleeping with a married man, working a dead-end job, and even the parties have started to feel exhausting. So when her sister calls her back home to help with their aging mother, she doesn’t hesitate to leave the city behind. But she arrives to find her mother hoarding pills, her sister chain-smoking, her long-dead father’s shoes still lined up on the steps, and the cowboy posters of her younger brother Daniel (who threw himself under a train four years ago) still on the walls.

Hoping to free her family from the grip of the past, Dada vows to unravel the mystery of Daniel’s final days. This American debut by a poet from Croatia’s “lost generation” explores a beautiful Mediterranean town’s darkest alleys: the bars where secrets can be bought, the rooms where bodies can be sold, the plains and streets and houses where blood is shed. By the end of the long summer, the lies, lust, feuds, and frustration will come to a violent and hallucinatory head.

Savičević playfully transposes the genre of a traditional Western drama onto the contemporary world, challenging the omnipotent heroes of childhood and questioning what constitutes heroism today. Her shabby seaside hometown provides the perfect backdrop for this tale of loss and redemption, redolent of transient glamour and unrealised small-town dreams.

 

 

In Dada’s wild amalgam of quest story, social satire, and comic shtick (plus a surreal film-shoot scene featuring cowboys), you won’t catch Savicevic offering tidy diagnoses. You won’t care, thanks to prose that glints like the sea in the distance. The Atlantic